Lunchtime date: Saint Tropez

One of the hazards of working for oneself is that, whatever the day of the week, one of your clients somewhere in the world will be working. Consequently, we rarely enjoy any Bank holidays. Then, of course, there’s the disparity in various Bank holidays. For example, Good Friday is not a holiday in France though it is in UK. Nonetheless, yesterday we finally tackled the caves (basement storage rooms) and we have  liberated our guest room which has masqueraded for the past 18 months as the world’s largest storeroom. Everything is now neatly packed up in waterproof, numbered, plastic boxes and, more importantly, I know where everything is stored.

Bearing the smug smiles of people who’ve finally tackled a long-outstanding task, we gave some thought to the rest of the Easter week-end. We had friends coming round for dinner on Monday and Sunday I’d be watching the Tour of Flanders. The outlook for Easter Saturday wasn’t favourable but, to avoid spending a further day at home, we decided to go out and avert cabin fever. We’d had thunder and lightning with heavy rain overnight, with more promised during the day. Where to go? Finally, we recognised we hadn’t been over to Saint Tropez since New Year’s day 2016 – zut alors!

It was a pleasant drive along the motorway as the recent mix of rain and sunshine had ensured that everything was blooming. The trees had bright lime green leaves and while the mimosa had faded it had been replaced by pale apple and cherry blossom. The melange of green on the hills was a delight, particularly against the backdrop of the red rocks.

As we turned off the motorway to head to Saint Tropez, the landscape becomes more rugged and undulating. There wasn’t too much traffic and we made good time along the coast road. As we were queueing to get into Saint Tropez, an inattentive Belgian ran into the back of my car, breaking the light on my bike carrier – better that than my car. He handed me Euros 50,00 to get it fixed.

We parked in the Hotel de Paris car park before heading to our favourite restaurant for lunch. We chose this restaurant on our maiden trip to Saint Tropez many years ago using my father’s guidelines: great location, linen tablecloths and napkins, full of locals, family owned, been there for ever – well, since 1887. It’s one of the most popular and well-known cafes in the port and is the perfect place to indulge in a spot of people watching.

It was warm enough to sit outside. As always the place was heaving and we were fortunate to get a table in a prime spot. The cafe and its patisserie is a veritable goldmine, directed by M le Patron and his well-drilled staff. It’s open all day, seven days a week, aside from a few weeks early January to mid-February. It’s a great cafe, bar and late night restaurant. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or a big night out!

The shortish menu is full of crowd-pleasers. I had a truffle omelette while my beloved had a burger – more of which later – washed down with some local rose, with a couple of coffees to finish. The omelette was perfection, baveuse (runny), fluffy and pale gold. The burger also scored top marks from my beloved. After lunch we wandered around the port and shops dodging the short, sharp showers.

Saint Tropez’s pretty –  but not overly so –  colourful, with a charming laid-back atmosphere and lots of pretty side streets to investigate. This early in the season some of the shops, hotels and restaurants are closed but the place was nevertheless thronged with locals and tourists, the latter notably from Italy, Germany and Switzerland. After very pleasantly whiling away a number of hours, we leapt in the car and drove home to watch the French League Cup Final from Bordeaux – PSG v FC Monaco – the perfect ending to a lovely day out.